Steve Smith is a teacher at Canyon High School in Anaheim, California who started an aviation program. This multi-year curriculum takes students from an overview of aviation to potentially passing the written and getting college credits. Talking with Steve about his original idea he says, “My first few years on campus I noticed we had classes such as auto shop, culinary arts, computer science, film and I started to think how cool it would be to have a pilot ground school option. I sat on the idea for a year or two and then started asking questions.”
Perseverance paid off for Steve after three years of trying. “ I talked with many people at my school, at my district, and even the county. Everyone I spoke with was very positive and receptive but they couldn’t tell me how to actually make it happen. Finally, the district hired a new CTE coordinator and she loved the idea and put the pieces in place to get the program approved and created” says Smith.
I asked him where his love of aviation came from. “You know, I did not have a lot of exposure to GA growing up. I never even considered being a pilot until I stumbled into the Aviation Sciences department at Baylor University as a sophomore. They told me that flight training was a required component of the degree program and I remember saying, “you mean, you will let me fly an airplane?” I think that plays in to the importance of a program like ours. There are many jobs on the horizon in the aviation industry, and it is important for students to get some exposure now and start investigating the possibilities.”
Year 1 – This class is mostly for freshman focusing on career opportunities in Aviation and Aerospace. Students will see the vastness of the industry and to start narrowing in on what they are passionate about when it comes to potential future employment.
Year 2 –Aviation I exposes students to aviation professionals, concepts, and opportunities while covering the first portion of the Private Pilot ground school content knowledge. Advanced Simulators are used to teach flying skills as part of the curriculum during class.
Year 3 – Aviation II picks up where Aviation I leaves off. Students receive the rest of their Private Pilot knowledge content and can be signed off at the end of the year to take the FAA written exam. Completion of Aviation I and II may allow students to receive college credit should they choose to enter most collegiate aviation programs. Students will continue to train on the simulators as well.
Year 4 – Internship programs with local aviation partners to allow students to receive high school credit while off campus working directly with aviation professionals in ANYTHING such as aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, business, airport operations, engineering, design, or maybe even flying!
The school secured a STEM planning grant of $50,000 from the district, which was paid for classroom furniture and two flight simulators. A $100,000 implementation grant from the district this year paid for four new simulators in addition to class sets of Chromebooks and flight planners.
This wonderful program is now operational because an aviation lover, and creative thinker had passion and perseverance. Imagine if we all took one good idea and tried, and tried, and tried.